First day of 80/35 fills Des Moines with vibrant music

The first day of the 80/35 music festival breathed life into downtown Des Moines on Friday, July 12.


Wyatt Dlouhy

DJs mix music at the Nationwide stage during the 2019 80/35 Festival in downtown Des Moines on Friday, July 12, 2019. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan).

Lauren Arzbaecher, Arts Reporter

Amid blazing heat from the summer sun, the first night of the 80/35 music festival hosted a parade of talented artists of all genres. People took shade underneath the few trees spotting the festival grounds in downtown Des Moines, finding any cool spot to enjoy the music.

A broken-down tour bus derailed Yungblud, the first act scheduled to perform at the main Hy-Vee stage, but local band the Maytags filled in. Even though the group only had a few hours’ notice, which singer Dustin Smith announced to the crowd, the soul-influenced sound, complete with a brass section, flowed over the festival with ease.

The Hex Girls, an indie rock band from Cedar Falls, kicked off the Nationwide free stage with a raucous set that centered on inventive guitar riffs. With a similarly edgy sound, Condor & Jaybird thrilled festival goers with psychedelic rock all the way from the Quad Cities.

The Gen Z Showcase provided a stage for young artists to perform, with ages ranging from elementary to high-schoolers. Plumero, made up of Ada Fender, Mia Prosperi, Leah Stringer, and Charlotte Byers delighted crowds with covers and original songs. The band members all attend Roosevelt High in Des Moines and have played together since the summer of 2018.

Wyatt Dlouhy
Emily Haines of Metric belts out a note at the Hy-Vee main stage during 80/35 in downtown Des Moines on July 12. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan).

“It’s really exciting,” Prosperi said. “We’ve been playing together for a year, so it’s been fun, especially getting to perform in Des Moines. It’s our first big gig together as a band.”

Squirrel Flower provided a cooling rush of folk. The group played at Mission Creek Festival in 2018.

Back at one of the main stages, foot-stomping Americana fueled Murder by Death’s set.

Along with the musical acts at 80/35, the festival hosted several artists and vendors. Items available included jewelry, clothing, art pieces, and even psychic readings. Abigail Rawson,

owner of Found+Formed, said the vintage and handmade clothing store has exhibited at the festival for three years.

“I look forward to the energy, and the fashion,” she said. “I feel like people show up dressed to impress, which is really fun to see.”

Now in its 12th year, 80/35 has become a staple of the Des Moines music scene. Each year of the festival introduces something new and exciting for its attendees.

Wyatt Dlouhy
Elisabeth Maurus of Lissie sings and plays guitar at the Kum & Go stage during 80/35 in downtown Des Moines on July 12. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan).

“80/35 is one of my favorite parts of the summer,” said festival-goer Nick Fleming. “It’s just a great place to spend time with friends, listening to good music.”

Once the sun began to set, the festival gained a new energy. Artists Markaus and LAV.ISH engaged festival-goers with hip hop, and indie-rock group Metric gave a rousing performance on the main stage. Des Moines got a small dose of Iowa City music as Younger brought its signature brand of indie rock to 80/35.

Lissie, which played on two different stages during the day, swayed viewers with a strong soulful voice in one of the last performances of the day. Closing down the night, headliner Elle King commanded the stage with her hit single “Ex’s and Oh’s” and a showcase of blues rock, leaving the crowd buzzing with excitement for another day of music.

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